During your dietetic career, you may choose to take a break and may not practise dietetics for a period of time, and therefore leave the HCPC register. This could be for a multitude of reasons including career break, travel, parental leave, caring responsibilities or illness.
For some individuals, after this period of time, they choose to resume their dietetic career, and return to practice.
The process of returning to practice
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The HCPC is the regulatory body for dietitians in the UK. Registration with the HCPC is mandatory if you are practising as a dietitian in the UK. If you have been out of practice for more than two years and you were previously registered as a dietitian in the UK, or have undertaken your dietetic qualification in the UK, you are required by HCPC to undertake a period of updating your skills and knowledge before you can become re-registered.
The following updating is required, depending on the length of time you have been out of practice:
|30 days of updating your skills and knowledge
|5 years or over
60 days of updating your skills and knowledge
The updating of your knowledge and skills can be made up of any combination of supervised practice, formal study or private study. The HCPC requires that any private study makes up no more than a maximum of half of your period. The period of updating should be completed within the 12 months before you apply for registration.
Once completed, you will be required to complete HCPC forms confirming your updated knowledge and skills. You will also need to ensure that you meet the HCPC standards which include:
- Standards of conduct, performance and ethics
- Standards of proficiency for dietitians
- Standards of continuing professional development
For further information regarding the HCPC requirements and how to apply for re-admission to the register please visit HCPC.
We strongly recommend that you contact the HCPC to discuss your circumstances and intention to re-register before embarking on any updating.
Advice for returners
We would strongly recommend that you join the BDA if you are planning to return to practice. We have a vast number of resources available to members that will help you for your period of updating.
These include Continuing Professional Development tools and resources, opportunities to network with practising dietitians through Specialist Groups and Branches, professional and education advice from the experts in the BDA office, practice and professional guidance documents, information on key policies affecting dietitians, copies and on-line access to Dietetics Today and the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Trade Union cover and professional indemnity insurance. It also provides access to the Practice-Based Evidence in Nutrition (PEN)database.
We advise all returners to gain some supervised practice before they return to practice, alongside some formal and private study. Firstly, contact your local dietetic department and speak to the dietetic manager to make a request. Or alternatively, get in touch with any of your ex-employers that are local to you.
If you are working in a department, even unpaid, whilst updating your skills and knowledge prior to getting back on the HCPC register, we suggest that you might ask to have an ‘honorary contract’, which would make your position as a supernumerary member of staff clear.
An honorary contract, or a letter to you from the supervisor/manager, should make your situation clear and define what you can and cannot do. There are procedures to be followed that protect you, the hospital and, most importantly, the patient. Most health organisations should have an honorary contract and may also require you to prove your identity and have a recent CRB check.
Two Higher Education Institutes (universities) now offer courses for those wishing to return to practice.
These courses allow those wanting to return to rediscover and develop practice-based skills and the acces updated theory.
Learn more about the courses:
The BDA does not provide funding for members returning to practice.
In Scotland and Northern Ireland there is currently no specific funding available for returners to update their skills and knowledge. If you are a resident in Wales you may apply for funding through the National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare (NLIAH). Please note funding available in England via Health Education England can be used for BDA courses.
Webinars for those wanting to return to practice:
For managers looking to employ returnees:
In this case study Yolande Potfieter, Head of Dietetic and a Community Paediatric Dietitian at Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust talks about her role as a supervisor for those returning to practice. Yolande discusses the benefits of retunrning to practice and the benefits of the programme her Trust runs, gives advice for those wanting to retun and more. Download the case study.
Return to Practice Handbook
Return to Practice Handbook is a booklet put together as guidance to support other returnees by a physiotherapist that had returned to practice. Health Education England are currently reviewing the booklet to consider adaptations to support all professions. However, this may be useful to use as guidance.